Developments along the coastline are creating a major headache for the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, the University of the West Indies-based programme to recover local marine turtle populations.
Director of Public Education and Awareness Carla Daniel told yesterday’s stakeholder consultation on the planned reform of the Town and Country Planning Act the programme is often forced to utilize scarce resources to save several nesting sites during construction.
With the turtle nesting season running from around June to September, Daniel made reference to an unnamed project, which she said was stretching the sea turtle project to its limit.
“At the moment we are facing a situation where we have coastal developments, many of which are quite large [and] they take quite a long time – often this can stretch perhaps one or two years – and they go through the sea turtle nesting season,” she said.
“We have one ongoing right now, where we have had to expend considerable resources – man power, money – relocating turtle nests. Every night turtles would come up in a construction site and lay eggs and every night we have to respond – dig those eggs up and take them to a completely different beach.”
She said while development was understandable, it should not be left to the project to carry all the burdens.
Therefore, even as she threw her support behind the efforts of the Mia Mottley administration to revamp the Act, Daniel suggested that consideration be given to the establishment of a funding model to assist the programme.
“Our recommendation is that there is some cost for mitigation of negative environmental impacts that are occurred not just because of the construction but during the construction phase so that things like sea turtles and other things can be taken care of as a part of the process,” she said.
Daniel also said while, like other small island states Barbados’ coastline was quickly disappearing due to a number of factors, some property owners continued to carry out developments “even though the high-water mark is not only bashing against the wall but coming right over the wall and into the garden”.
“I understand it is probably not in the best interest of many property owners to dress their construction and development back, but I think it is exceedingly important if we are going to maintain our coastline,” she warned.
“We know that our beaches are our bread and butter and . . . we are a cash-strapped country so we need to maintain all things that will bring foreign exchange and tourists to our shores. It is extremely important that those coastal developments take into consideration the fact that water is coming is closer and closer every year and our beaches are disappearing, and not just think in terms of economic gains and what is best for their building and property . . . . We cannot solve every problem with break waters and groins,” she added.